We Should All Learn European Languages – Here’s Why
We in the English-speaking world have enjoyed a dominance of language popularity for a long time. Students around the world have been taught English as a second language; when people travel to foreign countries, many signs and directions are also provided in English. And English has even been the official language of the EU for quite some time.
The Times are Changing
Every country in the world is now evolving into a small global community. People are establishing residency and becoming employed in countries other than the ones of their origin. And they bring with them their culture and their languages. We are seeing a diversity like never before. Such diversity includes the following challenges:
- Helping these sub-populations assimilate into their new environment
- Providing paths to citizenship
- Assisting children of such immigrants/emigrants to be successful in schooling
- Providing social services that such individuals may need
At the same time, developing economies in what we used to call “third-world” countries have increased the need for global communication.
In all, the dominance of English is beginning to wane.
So, the question becomes what languages people should learn to navigate this new world order? The answer is probably European languages, and here are five reasons why.
1. Studying Abroad
Europe is rich in educational opportunities, with world-renown universities. However, studying abroad in European countries requires that students learn the native language if they expect to both study and live successfully. Lack of language proficiency often prevents students from taking advantage of these opportunities.
2. A Global Economy
Europe has become a center of international business and houses global financial centers. As a result, it is no longer adequate to simply find the best translator for international business operations. While using a translator may be fine for some communications, becoming proficient in the language allows more frequent, less costly, and confidential discussions.
A word about developing economies here too. Most of these countries were once European colonies, and a large part of the population still speaks those European languages. Being proficient in those, most people find using European colonial languages for business purposes much easier.
3. Research Collaboration
Medical and other scientific research are now global, and much of it is taking place in universities and other research facilities in Europe. The development of the COVID vaccines should certainly have taught us that. When English-speaking researchers need to communicate and collaborate with their European counterparts, proficiency in the language, especially the technical and scientific terminology, can save time and money.
4. Language learning is Not Just for the Big Players
E-commerce has gone global as well. And many small businesses have decided to expand globally because they can find translation and localization services and because they have products and/or services that global consumers want. For example, suppose you have a monetized fashion blog to expand into France, Germany, Switzerland, and the like, with your articles and sponsored products. There is a huge European interest in fashion, and your blog may be just the right attraction.
If small businesses take the time to research the market viability of their products or services, they may find a large audience among European consumers. Then it will be a matter of getting their content translated and localized for each market they intend to enter. And there are reasonable translation companies to do this. But, learning the language will give small business owners a competitive edge, as they provide customer relationship management to European customers.
5. Reaching Out to Consumers in One’s Own Country
As each country absorbs international communities, the need to speak their languages grows for any business that hopes to engage and attract them. Consumers just prefer to do business in their native languages. In almost all countries of the world, there are European populations to be marketed to, but the wise business owner will have native European-speaking staff to provide the personalized attention that such consumers want.
Learning European languages is no longer an option for students, business professionals, and e-commerce retailers. Whether it is honoring European communities in their own countries, studying abroad, collaborating with researchers, or participating in an ever-evolving international business community, everyone should consider learning one or more European languages.
Author Bio: Carl Hill is a researcher and writer on the “shrinking” of our planet. He consults with businesses that want to go global and has been a frequent contributor to blogs and forums on this topic. When not at work, he can be found playing the guitar in a local band and volunteering for animal rescue organizations.